In the traditionally male-dominant technology field, a female Moraine Valley Community College instructor and student each earned an award from the tech group COMMON, the world’s biggest association of IT professionals who center on IBM and related technologies.
Michelle August, Moraine Valley professor and department chair of Computer Information and Office Technology, received the Al Barsa Memorial Scholarship while student Nilofur Khan, of Elgin, received the COMMON Education Foundation conference scholarship. The awards are typically presented at the COMMON annual conference; however, this year’s conference was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Al Barsa Memorial Scholarship honors someone who has made a significant difference to the COMMON and IBM i community. August has been involved with COMMON and its Education Foundation for a number of years. She also was the executive director of the Foundation for 12 years. She did not know she would be the recipient until the presenter started talking about the winner.
“This award is a huge honor. It’s really a lifetime achievement-type of award. I was completely surprised that I received it this year. I was so bummed we weren’t there in person for this. I was in my office, watching a live stream and crying with joy all by myself,” August said.
Randy Dufault, COMMON Education Foundation president, said, “This year’s recipient is synonymous with the COMMON Education Foundation. She is a tireless volunteer who has been pivotal to making the Foundation what it is today, dedicating time and effort into fulfilling the Foundation’s mission. She continues to give back to the Foundation, COMMON, and the entire community.”
August usually brings a student to the conference every year. Khan attended the in-person fall conference last year along with four other students, but she took the initiative to apply for the scholarship to attend this year’s virtual event because it had been such a good learning experience. She was the only student in attendance this time.
“It was definitely an honor to get this scholarship, and I’m grateful for the opportunity Michelle and COMMON Education Foundation gave me to further my education,” said Khan, who is majoring in computer science. “My overall experience was great! It was not like the usual conferences I’m used to; however, I still learned many new things from individuals who have been in this career field for years.”